They were in a battle. Not against flesh and blood, but against thoughts and ideas. Paul referring to them as “plausible arguments” (Col. 2:4) and empty philosophies “according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world” (Col. 2:8a). Thoughts and ideas “not according to Christ” (2:8b). Can’t help but make the connection between them and then with us and now.
Seems to me there’s a very similar battle around us today. We’re bombarded with voices telling us what we should think. Thoughts and ideas on how we should think politically, how we should think historically, how we should think sexually, how we should think conservatively, how we should think progressively. But if I’m picking up what Paul’s laying down this morning, we need to prioritize thinking christianly.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.
(Colossians 2:1-4 ESV)
Truth dispels error. In the absence of being filled with the truth, the vacuum will be filled with the best (or the worst) of what this world has to offer. So, as Paul struggled to contend for the minds of the saints at Colosse and Laodicea, he did so by encouraging them to load up on understanding and knowledge. Not the understanding and knowledge of the political pundits, not the understanding and knowledge of 24/7 newsrooms, not even the understanding and knowledge of favorite blog sites and popular social media platforms — but the understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.
Jesus really is the answer!
Yesterday Paul talked about the mystery. The mystery is Christ in you (Col. 1:27). The mystery is integrally linked to new creations in Christ brought together into the body of Christ to make known the glory of Christ. And to this body has been made available understanding and knowledge through Christ. To such an extent, and through such a supernatural dynamic, that we can cash in on the riches of full assurance. Literally, we can experience “entire confidence” in what is true and what is not so true. In what is of the world, and what is of the Way. In what is spiritual, and what is carnal. In what is founded in heaven, and what is conceived of in ignorance on earth. And that, through the understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
How we need wisdom. Ergo, how we need Christ.
How we need discernment. Thus, though we should be informed by credible news feeds, we must be infused with God’s word. Certainly true individually, as we read and study at home. But, if the mystery Paul refers to is the church (see yesterday’s post), then through community as well. Learning together, studying together, even, as Paul says, struggling together to plumb the depths of the understanding and knowledge God has made available to us in Christ.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
(Colossians 2:6-7 ESV)
Beyond receiving Christ we are to walk in Christ. And that as we are rooted and built up in Christ through the things we have been taught. Confident we are thinking correctly because we have availed ourselves of the riches of understanding and knowledge which are in Christ.
Full assurance. Not because we’re so bright, but because we have access to the words of Christ, the mind of Christ, and the active agency of the Spirit of Christ — all in the context of the body of Christ.
Ours is to determine, by His enabling and provision, to battle against thoughts and ideas which may sound plausible and seem to make sense according to human reasoning. And we do that with a passionate pursuit of understanding and knowledge to reach all the riches of full assurance.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true . . . think about these things.
(Philippians 4:8 ESV)
By His grace. For His glory.